Toys/Die Dreaming

“The G Thing”


The trio setting has proven a particularly fertile one for tenor saxophonist JD Allen. His latest trio, with bassist Ian Kenselaar and drummer Nic Cacioppo, is a powerful iteration, as heard on 2019’s Barracoon and its followup, this year’s Toys/Die Dreaming (Savant). Allen remains a compelling voice on his instrument, recalling the examples of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and David Murray, while also forging a sound unique to the times that shaped the 47-year-old Detroit native. Demonstrating his ability to graft new branches onto his roots, Allen reconceptualizes the jazz standard “You’re My Thrill” in a thrillingly modern fashion, makes a granular examination of the ballad “I Should Care” and nods to even older antecedents with his volcanic closer, “Elegua (The Trickster),” named for a Yoruban deity. His composition “The G Thing” begins with an almost Rollins-on-the-Williamsburg-Bridge type of meditation, as he blows an introspective introductory statement shaded by Kenselaar and Cacioppo’s sensitive support. The tempo evolves into a sultry strut, as the rhythm team shifts into a brisk but unhurried trot. With bluesy brio, Allen evokes an urban, nocturnal excitement not unlike Rollins did with his “Alfie’s Theme.”

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The Authoritative Voice in Jazz